Almost as if this game was a continuation of last year, the Jets got off to a slow start to begin the game and the season. The Cowboys marched down the field on heir first drive completing passes on both Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. The Jets defense, which kept 10 of 11 starters from last, looked as if they were still playing in the preseason.
After Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo completed a three yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant (against Cromartie not Revis), Mark Sanchez and the Jets got the ball for the first time. Sanchez was sacked by linebacker Demarcus Ware on the first play, and the Jets went three-and-out. It looked even worse after the Jets forced a Cowboys punt, but rookie Jeremy Kerley muffed the punt. Luckily the ball went out of bounds and the Jets kept possession.
Dallas led seven to zero after the first quarter and added a field goal early in the second. The Jets got the ball back on their own thirteen yard-line, and it seemed like Sanchez finally realized that the lockout had ended and the season had begun. After eight plays for 83 yards, Mark Sanchez rolled right and threw his first touchdown pass of the year to tight end Dustin Keller who caught his first, second and third balls of the day on that drive. Sanchez used Keller and runningback Ladanian Tomlinson well while the offensive line finally gave Sanchez time to throw.
The Jets punted on their first drive of the second half, and on the Cowboys’ first drive Tony Romo threw a 36 yard touchdown pass to receiver Miles Austin (against Cromartie again). The Jets added a field goal to make it 17 to 10. Then, just as it looked as Sanchez was about to lead the Jets to a another touchdown, Cowboys’ linebacker Sean Lee intercepted a pass intended for Dustin Keller. Lee returned the ball to the one yard-line, and runningback Felix Jones ran the ball one yard for a touchdown to give the Cowboys a 24-10 lead.
Since 1960, the Cowboys had never lost a game while leading by fourteen or more points in the fourth quarter, but that was about to change. Sanchez and the Jets quickly moved down the field, and Sanchez threw a 26 yard fade to receiver Plaxico Burress who caught it for his first NFL touchdown since getting out of prison in June.
On their next drive, Romo completed a 64 yard pass to tight end Jason Witten, and Jets’ safety Jim Leonhard made a game saving play by pushing Witten out of bounds at the three yard-line. Two plays later, Romo was looking for Dez Bryant (this time covered by Revis), but he wasn’t open. Romo decided to run and was stripped by defensive end Mike Devito. Though the Jets didn’t score on their ensuing drive, this play still proved to be a game-changer. The Cowboys were forced to go three-and-out, but on a perfectly designed play by Jets’ special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff, runningback Joe McKnight blocked the punt and Isiah Trufant recovered the ball and ran it for a touchdown to tie the game.
The Cowboys and Jets both punted on their next posessions which gave the Cowboys the ball back with one minute left on their own 41. On the next play, Tony Romo hit his intended receiver straight in the chest; unfortunately, his intended receiver appeared to be Darrelle Revis who caught the ball and returned it to the Cowboys’ 34. Three plays later, kicker Nick Folk knocked a 50 yard field goal through the uprights to give the Jets a 27-24 lead.
The Cowboys still had a chance with the ball on their 34 yard-line, eight seconds left, one timeout and one of the strongest kickers in the NFL, but while Romo was calling signals to his receivers, the ball came out of nowhere and hit him in the chest. He jumped on it avoiding a fumble, but it took a precious 5 seconds off the clock, and three seconds later, the game was over.
It was not all good news for the Jets though. Their offensive line, missing veteran tackle Damian Woody, was man-handled throughout the game. They rushed for only 42 yards and Sanchez almost never had enough time to pass. Antonio Cromartie struggled once again playing opposite Revis, and the Cowboys moved the ball easily all game long. Things will ideally improve for both teams as the season moves on